Back in March, Satya Nadella made his first public appearance as Microsoft’s CEO at the San Francisco launch of Office for iPad.
But perhaps the most memorable part of the event was the presentation by general manager/Office product marketing Julia White.
The media loved her.
Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff said her stylish jacket should get its own Twitter account. The New York Post said “… it wasn’t just Nadella’s laid-back threads. Microsoft general manager Julia White, who presented the Office iPad app, was decked out in a black form-fitting LaMarque motorcycle jacket.”
Twitter user Brian Barker (@peachorchid) summed it up for most people: “Julia White looks like she arrived from some cool sci-fi future in her leather jacket to stop us from destroying ourselves #cloudformobile,”tweeted.
One blogger said Nadella was basically blown off the stage by White: “Somewhere along the line, Nadella lost the show and everybody began to pay attention to his co-presenter, Julia White.”
In short, White is the first genuinely cool leader at Microsoft we’ve seen in years.
Microsoft is now running a paid advertorial slot on Techmeme for its official profile of her. The company is almost daring people to speculate about her future in Microsoft’s top echelons: “Is Office exec Julia White the face of a new Microsoft?” asks the company’s official blog.
Here are the 10 most interesting things we learned from White’s new bio:
- She’s a redhead (duh) and believes it has made her an outsider. “I think that a lot of it goes back to being a redhead … I’ve always liked being different, so I embraced that mentality.”
- White was an Olympic hopeful in synchronised swimming.
- She was born “in a potato-growing area of Idaho, White’s friends and neighbours were all farmers.”
- She keeps a soccer ball in her office, which she dribbles while she talks.
- Her first job in tech was at Intuit in 1996.
- She knew early that online banking would be huge: “I was the youngest person on the team and one of the bankers told me, ‘NO ONE is going to bank on the internet. That is crazy.’ I responded, ‘Sorry, it’s really not.'”
- In 1999, she left Intuit to go to Harvard Business School.
- She’s one of those women like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer who “has it all” — kids and a career: “when White was on maternity leave with her second child, a colleague got in touch to ask her to ‘come lead Exchange marketing.’ She says, “To have a newborn and take on a new job at that level was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my career.'”
- That LaMarque leather jacket retails for somewhere between $US400 and $US600.
- Finally, she can blow giant bubble gum bubbles, as this Microsoft promo pic shows: